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Ashampoo WinOptimizer 11 review

Ashampoo's all-new WinOptimizer 11 packs more tools for cleaning, optimizing, and protecting your Windows PC than its freeware competitors, including WinOptimizer Free. And it has a sophisticated yet easy-to-manage layout with support options that the free system utilities can't match. In addition to regularly scheduled system maintenance and tweaks, WinOptimizer 11 has a One-Click Optimizer, extras like anti-spy protection, and a host of modules. Recent upgrades include Live Tuner 2.0, Game Booster, and User Rights Management.

Pros

Does it all: WinOptimizer 11 has an impressive array of tools and features -- more than other software of its … Read more

Apple patent points to next-gen Siri with sensors

Siri, Apple's virtual personal assistant, could be due for a dramatic overhaul, if a recently acquired patent is to be our guide.

The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on Tuesday published patent 8,677,377, "Method and apparatus for building an intelligent automated assistant," which describes what is essentially a higher-end Siri that can provide automated assistance to people in a wide array of circumstances.

According to Patently Apple, the technology relies on software and a combination of sensors to identify where people are. In one embodiment, the patent shows how Siri, using information gathered from … Read more

The 404 1,441: Where we ride the green wave (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- An Estonian photographer discovered an abandoned movie theater in the Sinai desert.

- This photographer just made $15k in one day on Instagram.

- Audi's new tech can turn every traffic light green.

- Banter tries to reinvent the chat room.… Read more

Finally, someone wants to ease the pain of booking a hotel

It's time for a confession.

I used to have an assistant called Brandy. I drove her nuts, so much so that she went into comedy.

You see, when she had to book my flights, she'd have to remember I'd only fly in Boeings and Airbuses (please, don't ask). And when she had to book my hotels, she had to remember to find out if they had windows that opened.

After awhile, we came to understand each other. She understood that I was mentally impaired. I understood that she understood.

Now, perhaps in a fit of seeing &… Read more

Ivee Sleek voice-activated home assistant joins forces with Lowe's Iris and Staples Connect

Interactive Voice unveiled a voice-controlled gadget called Ivee Sleek at last year's CES. Although just a prototype in January 2013, the Wi-Fi-enabled personal assistant is now on sale for $229.99. The news of the week is that Ivee Sleek has established a couple of new smart home partnerships with Lowe's Iris and Staples Connect.

For a quick refresher, Ivee Sleek is like your very own in-house personal assistant. It's supposed to be able to answer questions and respond to commands in over 30 different categories. It sort of reminds me of Siri -- just for the … Read more

Nope, Yahoo isn't building a Siri rival -- at least one we know of

Ever since Chief Executive Marissa Mayer arrived at Yahoo, the company has been saying it's going to emphasize personalization in its products. And with the former Google executive at the helm, Yahoo also has been toiling away on its search efforts.

But as far as we know, those efforts aren't culminating in a personal assistant app. A video circulating around the Internet on Wednesday that showed what looked like a Yahoo-branded personal assistant app isn't directly connected to Yahoo, according to a source familiar with the company's projects.

Web site Android Police reported that the Sunnyvale, … Read more

Siri battles Google Now in new contest

Which is better: Apple's Siri or Google Now? Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster recently put them both to the test.

First, let's take a look at Siri's performance.

Based on the results of 800 different queries, Siri showed an improvement in iOS 7 when compared to its behavior under iOS 6. Apple's voice assistant answered 79 percent of all the questions and fared better in a noisy environment than it did in last year's test results. Specifically, the latest version of Siri got a higher mark than the previous version for its ability to interpret … Read more

Review: 24me Smart Personal Assistant is a calendar that links to outside accounts

24me Smart Personal Assistant looks and feels like a calendar but manages to do so much more, offering numerous tools to sync financial accounts, tasks, bills, and social connections into a single interface. The result is a sleek, intuitive app that works perfectly for managing all of the daily tasks you might otherwise struggle to keep organized across multiple accounts.

When you first start 24me, you'll be required to set up a new account, or you can connect with Facebook. After this is done, which takes only a couple of seconds, you'll be prompted to connect other accounts. … Read more

Aacorn app anticipates what kids want to say

For kids, getting parents to understand what they're thinking or feeling can be a challenge all on its own. But having additional speech impairments or developmental delays can make basic communication a serious hurdle.

Now, the Aacorn App for iPad is available for kids and teens with impairments to help empower them to communicate faster and more intuitively.

Developed for three years at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute in Australia, the app is designed to enable children to express themselves more freely. But the app is not free -- it'll will set you back… Read more

Honda steps forward with walking assist device

Honda's latest foray into the world beyond cars and bikes may sound like a bit of a leap, but it's the next logical step in the company's line of personal mobility devices.

The Walking Assist Device, which we took a look at back in 2008 but ultimately dates back to 1999, has evolved from an interesting concept that might make walking a bit easier to the subject of a new clinical trial that might help stroke patients improve their mobility.

Honda announced last week that it is currently testing its battery-powered device at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. As with its humanoid bot ASIMO, Honda says its Walking Assist Device uses cooperative control tech the company developed over the course of studying the human gait. Using readings from hip angle sensors of the patient's natural gait, a control computer activates motors to improve the symmetry of the timing of each leg lift and to promote a longer stride. The simple design includes adjustable belts to fit over differently-sized people and clothing.… Read more